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article imageIBM launches autonomous ship project

By Tim Sandle     Nov 1, 2019 in Technology
IBM has joined a new global consortium which is developing building unmanned, fully-autonomous ships. The aim is for the ships to cross the Atlantic, carrying cargo and, one day, passengers.
The project is building up to launch on the fourth centenary of the original Mayflower voyage, which is September 2020. For this reason, the project has been named the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS).
The journey will begin from Plymouth, U.K., with the craft setting sail to Plymouth, Massachusetts. If the journey is successful, then this will be the first self-navigation of the Atlantic using a full-sized vessel.
The basis of the autonomous craft will be IBM's artificial intelligence system, which runs from a combination of servers, cloud, and edge computing technologies. The key challenges are how the craft will be able to navigate autonomously and avoid ocean hazards.
The first mission will see the ship transporting three research pods, each equipped with sets of sensors and scientific instrumentation. The point of this equipment will be to assess maritime cybersecurity, sea level mapping, and also, from an environmental perspective, to assess levels of ocean plastics.
These advanced sensors have been developed by a range of universities. Equal importance is placed on the instrumentation, so the project is not only geared around testing out the navigation system, the research equipment on-board is also cutting edge and the researchers backing the project are keen to see if a cost-effective and flexible platform for gathering data delivers significant results.
The following video gives an idea of what the craft might look like:
Commenting on the project to Smart2Zero, Andy Stanford-Clark, Chief Technology Officer, IBM UK & Ireland states: “IBM helped put man on the moon and is excited by the challenge of using advanced technologies to cross and research our deepest oceans.”
He adds that: “By providing the brains for the Mayflower Autonomous Ship, we are pushing the boundaries of science and autonomous technologies to address critical environmental issues."
The craft itself is being designed by the company ProMare at Gdansk, Poland, and the vessel will use state-of-the-art hybrid wind, solar and diesel propulsion systems for the 3,220 mile route.
More about Ibm, Shipping, autonomous vehicles, Oceans
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